The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hendre Owen Farm

This is a picture of me with Donald and Bette Millichap on the front stoop of their home at 1200 acre, Hendre Owen Farm in Port Talbot, South Wales. They were on their way to church, and it was the last time I saw them before reluctantly leaving for home at zero-dark-thirty the next morning. These are some of the nicest people I have ever met and when I saw this picture on their daughter-in-law, Lisa's, Facebook page, I just had to steal it. I am blessed to call her friend too, and I'm sure she wouldn't mind.

Their son Richard is one of the best sheepdog handlers competing in the world today, and at the age of 30-something has stunning wins to his credit including twice finishing reserve champion at the International Supreme Championship. Winning the toughest and most prestigious sheepdog trial in the world has just eluded him, not once, but twice, but he'll keep knocking on that door and it will open, I have no doubt.

I went to Wales to purchase Lad from Richard in 2005. Donald and Bette befriending me was just icing on the cake, and I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed their company. I'm not sure how long these two have been on that farm, but Richard and his older brother were born and raised there. For years while Donald farmed, Bette raised and sold geese. The geese were all gone by the time I got there, and Bette was spending her days taking care of her 2 grandaughters and everyone else as far as I could see. Right next door, and in fact annexed to Donald and Bette's house, is where Richard, Lisa and their daughters, Leah and Carley live. Their home was once a barn that they painstakingly and beautifully remodeled, and the two homes tucked side by side reminded me more of a village than anything else. Everyone moved easily between the 2 places, and it didn't take me more than a day to figure out how comfortable that was.

I stayed in an upstairs bedroom at Lisa and Richard's, but would move to Donald and Bette's just after breakfast for a visit, tea and Welsh cakes, a homemade delicacy that Bette whipped up in never ending supply. The girls came home from school, deposited their books at home, then over the Grandma's for, you guessed it...Welsh cakes. I don't cook, but if I did, I would make those. Bette, bless her heart, sent some home with me, but realizing they would never make it on the plane, Richard and I ate them at international cargo while we waited to deposit Laddie. Drinking airline tea from styrofoam cups, eating Welsh cakes in the parking lot with Richard at 5am is a happy memory. Forget that. There was no part of that trip that is not a happy memory.

Richard and Lisa have generously invited me to come back on the occasions of the World Trial and each International Supreme Championship since my visit. I have been unable to take them up on it, but I will. Richard and Lisa's hospitality, Donald and Bette's warmth, and that gorgeous hill farm with the world class sheepdogs will over power me sooner than later, and I'll find myself with my feet up in Bette's kitchen, leafing through the local paper, talking to Donald about farming with a Welsh cake in my hand.

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